One Puck Short Around the Web – What the Hell Happened To…Zigmund Palffy?
Originally posted on The Farm Club as part of their ‘What the Hell Happened To…’ series, I took a look at the career of former Isles, Kings and Pens winger Zigmund ‘Ziggy’ Palffy
The mid-90s and early 2000’s earned the infamous title of the ‘clutch and grab era’ in NHL hockey. A period which made Wayne Gretzky’s fire wagon Oilers a distant memory, where brawn ruled the day, and terms such as ‘trap hockey’ began to become common.
It was a time when Eric Lindros and the Legion of Doom were in their pomp, Peter Forsberg’s body was yet to give up, and ‘go big or go home’ was a predominant slogan in team selection – but where a 5’10” Slovakian became a cult hero on Long Island.
Zigmund ‘Ziggy’ Palffy was drafted in the 2nd round, 26th overall, by the New York Islanders at the 1991 draft following impressive showings in his native Czechoslovakia and with the national team at the 1991 World Junior Championships. Two seasons with Dukla Trenčín proceeded his eventual arrival in North America for the 1993/94 season.
Palffy spent almost the entirety of his first year in the US with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, and split time between the Islanders and Denver Grizzlies the following year before finally breaking out in the 1995/96 season.
Palffy’s 43 goals and 87 points in 81 games established the Skalica native as a star for a middling Islanders side, far removed from its dynasty days of the early 1980s. He followed it up with 48 and 42 goal campaigns before injuries held him to just 50 games in 1998/99, though he still managed to average a point per game in that span and netted 22 goals.
Financial difficulties saw him traded to LA in the summer of 1999, where he continued to struggle with injuries but also score in abundance. Palffy recorded three 30 goal seasons with the Kings, and maintained a better than a point per game average, despite never playing a full season for the club.
Palffy opted to leave California for Pittsburgh ahead of the 2004/05 season, but ended up playing for Czech outfit Slavia Praha (as well as a brief stint with his home town club Skalica HK 36) due to the lockout.
He finally donned the Penguins jersey when the NHL resumed in October 2005, but his time with the club was short-lived when he suddenly retired just 42 games in to the season. Then Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick cited a lingering shoulder injury, which had restricted him to just 35 games in 2003/04, as the reason behind Palffy’s decision to call it a day.
The winger would return to professional hockey two years later, though, as the 35-year old Palffy once again donned his skates to represent his home town club, where he has gone on to lead the club in scoring in each of the last four seasons.
Palffy also reversed his decision to retire from international hockey, representing Slovakia at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Now 40, Palffy continues to play for his home town Skalica HK 36, netting 29 goals and 81 points this season, and remains something of a cult figure among NHL fans.